LaRoche, Johnson, Malone honored

Single-A Vero Beach third baseman Andy LaRoche was a repeat winner as Player of the Month and Single-A Columbus teammates Blake Johnson and Chris Malone shared Pitcher of the Month accolades as the Los Angeles Dodgers announced their top minor leaguers for May, according to Dodger Director, Player Development Terry Collins.

LaRoche, selected as the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Month for April after batting .327 with five home runs and 18 RBI, put on a power display in May to once again receive the honor. In 28 games, he hit .357 (40-for-112) with 14 home runs, seven doubles, 25 RBI and 30 runs scored, helping first-place Vero Beach compile an 18-11 record during the month. LaRoche was also named Topps Florida State League Player of the Month for May.

The right-handed hitting LaRoche started the month by hitting two homers and driving in four runs on May 1 at Jupiter. That was one of six contests in May in which he collected three hits, also doing so in three consecutive games from May 19-21. Over a five-game stretch from May 20-24, he clubbed seven home runs, including his second and third multi-homer games of the campaign.

Overall in 55 games this season, LaRoche is batting .333 with 20 home runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 45 RBI, 49 runs scored and five stolen bases. He is tied for first among all minor leaguers with 150 total bases and his home run total ranks second. LaRoche, recently selected to play in the June 18 Florida State League All-Star Game, also leads the circuit in hits (75), extra-base hits (34), runs scored and slugging percentage (.667).

LaRoche, 21, entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in the Dodger organization. The Fort Scott, KS native was selected by the Dodgers in the 39th round of the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft. LaRoche's father, Dave, pitched 14 seasons in the Major Leagues while his brother, Adam, is a first baseman with the Atlanta Braves.

Johnson made five starts for Columbus in May and was 3-1 with a 0.91 ERA. In 29.2 innings, the right-hander allowed just 17 hits and eight walks while striking out 22 batters and limiting opposing hitters to a .163 average.

In his first start of the month, on May 2 in the second game of a doubleheader at Savannah, Johnson went the distance, going 7.0 innings and hurling a 2-0 two-hit shutout. He followed that on May 9 by tossing 6.2 scoreless frames in earning a 6-1 victory vs. Charleston. On May 24, Johnson yielded just one hit and a walk in 5.2 shutout innings to defeat visiting Savannah, 8-4.

Johnson, who turns 20 years old next Tuesday, was the Dodgers' second-round selection in the June 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge, LA He has made 10 starts for the Catfish this season and is 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 52.1 innings of work.

Malone, a right-hander, made eight appearances, including five starts, for Columbus during May. In those eight games, he went 4-1, posting a 1.15 ERA and giving up 20 hits and five walks with 27 strikeouts in 39.0 innings. Opponents batted just .149 against him. In his five May starts, he was 3-1 with a 0.99 ERA.

The 21-year-old Malone, in his first professional season, closed out the month with a real gem. On May 31, in a 3-1 victory at Greenville, Malone pitched eight perfect innings before giving up a broken-bat single to lead off the ninth, with the runner eventually scoring on a passed ball. That one-hitter was preceded by another complete-game triumph on May 26 vs. Hickory as he surrendered just one run, three hits and a walk. In his first start of the month on May 4 vs. Augusta, Malone fired 6.0 shutout innings in a 1-0 victory. He pitched 7.0 solid innings on May 15 at Augusta, allowing one run on five hits and no walks with a season-high nine strikeouts in a 4-2 win.

Overall this season, Malone, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton, CA) in August 2004, is 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 15 outings.

Each Dodger minor league manager nominates players from his team for the monthly honors with the minor league coordinators selecting the winners.

Others receiving consideration for May honors were: Triple-A Las Vegas - infielder Willy Aybar (.327, 11 doubles, 16 RBI), infielder Brian Myrow (.321, eight doubles, three homers, 11 RBI), infielder Norihiro Nakamura (.302, eight homers, 18 RBI), right-handed pitcher Aquilino Lopez (3-1, two saves, 1.96 ERA) and right-handed pitcher Franquelis Osoria (2-0, four saves, 1.42 ERA); Double-A Jacksonville - second baseman Delwyn Young (.304, six homers, 16 RBI); Vero Beach - right-handed pitcher Justin Orenduff (2-2, 1.59 ERA); Columbus - left-handed pitcher Carlos Alvarez (1-1, one save, 0.00 ERA). print this page